The Europen Commission has announced its intention to create a High Level Group on simplification. It aims to reduce the administrative burden for beneficiaries to access the five European Structural and Investment Funds– the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
The group is to independently assess and monitor the uptake of simplification opportunities to access and use European Structural and Investment Funds by the Member States, thus contributing to the Commission’s efforts for Better Regulation.
Former Commission Vice President Siim Kallas will chair this group which is planned to run for three years. The members of the group should include the best available experts in the field. Special focus is to be put on five priorities:
1. Facilitating access to funding for SMEs
2. Tackling the “Goldplating” practice, where extra requirements or administrative hurdles are addedat national or regional level, including in the process of selecting projects.
3. Using simpler ways to reimburse costs.
4. Increasing the use of online procedures, such as “e-cohesion” in Cohesion Policy funded projects
5. Analysing how projects initiated and managed by local communities are implemented (community-led local development)
The new regulations offer a broad range of opportunities for simplification and reduced administrative burden. These include a set of common rules for all European Structural and investment Funds.
This High Level Group on simplification is part of a broader initiative to improve how Member States and regions invest and manage EU Cohesion Policy funds, set by Commissioner Corina Creţu and the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy.